Analysis: COVID in extended foster care

But due to COVID-19 protocols and staff shortages, the already limited privileges of the group home have been curtailed. In-person visits have ended. Group activities have practically disappeared. Inside, DY resented wearing a mask and washing his hands constantly. With each exposure alert, he and others had to quarantine themselves.

When he returned to school in person, he was hoping authorities would also find it safe to see his mother again – but that didn’t happen for months. Her sister – who has been placed with relatives and whose case was more advanced at the start of the pandemic – was sent back to her mother last summer. DY wants the same: to taste her mom’s cooking, to make eggs in her own kitchen, to sit on the couch with her family without masks.

“I still want her to keep me,” the 13-year-old said of his mother, who declined to comment for the story as the cases of DY and her third child remain active. “I can say she has great confidence when I get home. I don’t know if this will happen.

The AP does not name DY, but rather refers to him by the initials used in his lawsuit against the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families. The lawsuit accuses the state of providing inadequate care, with DY having undergone 50 placements before the pandemic, housing him on certain days in a motel or the agency’s office building. The state declined to comment on his case and trial.

Frank Ordway, chief of staff at the Washington Child Protection Agency, blamed court system closures for declining reunifications and pleaded with those who have not fully reopened to prioritize cases like that of DY.

“When these systems don’t work, these families and these children are left in limbo,” Ordway said.

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